Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Decals are Ringing My Bells

There have been a few people who have showed interest in the stamping decal technique, so today I am going to show you my mani for the 12 Days of Christmas challenge (where I used stamping decals) and give some tips and links for how to use stamping decals.  Let's start with the mani.  The prompt is "bells".

Other than the fact that I used the wrong outline color, I really like this.

This started with two coats of Wonder Beauty Storm Chaser over two coats of Spa Ritual Deep.  Storm Chaser will get the spotlight (long with the other Wonder Beauty polishes I picked up recently) latter in the week.

 Next I created some decals using Pueen 38 and Revlon Penny.  Penny is a lovely copper that I use often for stamping.  I thought I would work well with the copper glitter in Storm Chaser, but once I filled in the bells using Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Silver Sweep, poor Penny was a little overwhelmed and got lost in all the metallic glow.  Seems every mani is a learning experience.  I filled the bows with Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Snappy Sorbet.  Let's talk about when I use stamping decals.

These are the images I wanted to use for this mani.  This is the perfect example of three of the many reasons that I use stamping decals.  Here are some of those reasons:
  1. An outlined image that I would like to have filled with color.
  2. An image that I only want to use a portion of.
  3. Creating an inverse copy of an image.
  4.  If I have an image (or polish) that is fickle in it's stamping "perfection" (bald spots, dries to fast etc.) I can stamp multiple images and choose only the ones that stamped well.
  5. I want an image placed right where I want it.
For these bells, I wanted the little ones dancing along my tips like a festive french tip.  Doing this without decals would have been one big PITA, but by using decals, I could place each little bell perfectly where I wanted it.  Another great use for stamping decals is for those french tip images that never get the love they deserve because they are too hard to get lined up on the nails.  Check my post HERE for an example.

To make a stamping decal, you stamp onto a slick surface, instead of your nails.  Some people stamp onto sandwich bags or plastic binders.  In one of my stamping groups, someone mentioned that they stamped on silicone spatulas because the decals released so easily.  I had never had success with the baggies, so thought this might be a good alternative.  Then someone mentioned that they use a silicone baking pad and whalla, my decal obsession was born.  I found mine at Target, but  I have heard that you can find them at Micheals and even dollar stores.

Here you can see the larger bell image stamped on the plate along with some finished decals.

After you have stamped the image on your slick surface, you can paint in any part you would like with polish or acrylic paints.  After you are satisfied with the image, add a layer of top coat.  After the top coat dries, you can carefully peel the image off the surface.  I have a few tips regarding this step.
  • Use a fast drying top coat.  I always heard that you should let the top coated image sit for several hours before trying to remove it.  I found that using a quick dry top coat means that you can remove it much quicker.  I removed these decals from the silicone within 20 minutes of top coating them.  I usually use Cult Nails Wicked Fast as it is thin and dries in a New York minute!  I have used Seche Vite in the past, but the decals tend to be stiff, which makes them more difficult to apply.  This brings us to the next tip.
  • Use a thin layer of top coat.  The thinner the layer, the more flexible the decal, the easier it is to apply to your nail.  However, don't get too thin or the decal will rip when removing.
  • I usually use tweezers to peel the decals off the silicone.
  • If you don't plan on applying the decals right away, leave them attached to the silicone or seal them up in a baggie.  The longer they are exposed to the air, the stiffer they get, the harder they are to apply.
Say you were going to use an image that was easily stamped on the nail.  Why not just stamp on the nail and then fill in the lines?


This is why!  On the left you can see the filled in image.  I really was trying to keep close to the lines!  And then there is the smearing.  That is partly because I was trying to get a thin top coat layer, but I have seen smearing this bad with regular application of top coat.  Once you turn the decal over, all that mess gets pretty well covered and you have a nice filled decal with a crisp outline.  Even the "shine line" show up, which I never would have been able to paint around.  Even the smallest images can turn out looking sharp!

Next step!  One nail at a time, add a layer of top coat and place your decal into the wet polish.  Got more tips for this step too!
  • Make sure you trim any extra top coat around the image.
  • Leave as few sharp edges as possible.  Corners have a tendency to stick up and are more stubborn about sticking flat to the nail.  I use one of those little curved cuticle scissors to trim my images.
  • When trimming your images, work on a light colored surface and a breeze free area.  No fans for this part or you may have decals all over the place!  I say a 
  • Be prepared!  Have your decals lined up, an orange stick and tweezers handy because once you apply the top coat to your nails, you should move fast.
  • Speaking of top coat, fast dry is the way to go again!  You can use regular top coat, but you will spend a lot of time pressing the decal to the nail so it doesn't curl up while drying.  Using fast dry mean less fussing around with the decal, but it also means that you have to work fast to get all the edges down before it all dries.
  • Use tweezers to place the decals.  Use the flat end of the orange stick with gentle pressure to press the edges down.
  • If you are using a full nail decal or french tip image, trim the image wider than your nail bed.  When you place the decal, you can hold down the sides with you fingers and get it nice an snug on the nail, then use polish remover and a small brush to clean up the extra polish around the edges.
Finally add another layer of topcoat to seal the decal in and smooth out all the edges.  If you had some stubborn edges, use a thick top coat like Seche Vite or Posh to help the smoothing process.  And that's it!  It may sound like a lot of work, but with a little practice it will become almost as easy as regular stamping.  The results are worth the effort in my book.

Well there you have it, my bells mani and as many tips as I could think of for a successful stamping decal mani.  Want to see more ways I have used stamping decals (and how much I have improved)?  Click on the "stamping decals" in the labels section on the right side of the blog.  If you try this technique, let me see how it turned out with a link in the comments or on my Facebook page!  Thanks for looking and reading....and reading....and reading :)


  1. These have turned out really well, I love that base and your little bells =)

    1. That base is amazeballs! I will be posting all of my Wonder Beauty swatches this weekend, so watch for them!

  2. You & I do our decals almost opposite. lol I put a layer of slow drying clear down 1st, stamp, fill in the designs from the back (we do this part the same), peel off & attach with more slow dry, tack trimmed edges down & clean up with acetone & a angled flat edge brush wrapping the tips. My way has the clear base on top when applied & I don't have to worry about the design smearing. I don't wait hours for polish to dry, maybe 10 minutes for the clear, a few minutes for each color & when the last color dries I can go straight to application. I can see that both methods work, so whatever suits & get the desired results is a good thing. <3

    1. I used to use a layer underneath too, but I always found that I had to top coat it anyways because of poor application skills, so why waste the extra step. I have used slow drying before, but am too impatient :)

    2. I top coat my decals to seal them on & cuz my slow dry isn't as shiny or long wearing as SV.

      We both get fab art on our nails & our techniques work. Look at all the option we offer for peeps to find a method that works best for them! <3